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People at risk of psychological side-effects of screen addiction: UK Research

Written by  Mar 02, 2018

People are becoming increasingly attached to device screens, with the average person in the UK spending six hours a day looking at some form of screen, research has found.

Almost a quarter spend more than 10 hours a day attached to a screen and 60% even look at two at once, according to research of more than 2,000 adults by OnePoll on behalf of Encore Tickets. Screens include smartphones, tablets, work computers and TV.

But these mobile-first lifestyles could have damaging long-term side-effects. Analysis of the wider research findings by University College London analysis academic Kiki Leutner found it is affecting people’s behaviour within relationships, concentration levels, and losing touch with the real world.

“The research shows that nine out of 10 of us say screens are a necessary part of everyday life and more than a third of people say they couldn’t live without screens,” she said. “This shows our increasing reliance on digital devices, but also supports the idea that people develop attachments towards devices such as their phone, which can be damaging.”

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The research found that people even experience distress on separation from their devices. “Attributing this kind of attachment to an object can be damaging in the long term,” said Leutner. “People who have constant contact and validation from mobile devices may deepen their dependence on others, affecting both their behaviour and relationships.”

And it seems one screen is not enough, with three out of five people admitting to using a device while watching TV. Browsing the web, scrolling through social media and keeping up to date with work emails are the usual second-screen activities.

This is bad for concentration, said Leutner. “By using multiple devices, we may like to think we are multitasking, but actually we could be concentrating less,” she said.

As more and more everyday activities go digital, such as banking and retail, people will need to make the effort to spend time away from screens. According to Leutner, attending events such as theatre performances can help to reduce addiction to devices and its negative effects.

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